Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Federated purchases gas station, feed store

 

December 28, 2017

Lois E. Johnson

CEO Mike McMahon of Federated Co-ops, on left, and Mark Grave, Federated Propane Operation Manager at Kettle River, hold the new sign for the Country Store before it was installed.

Federated Co-ops, Inc. has purchased the gas station and the feed store formerly owned by the Moose Lake Cooperative Association, it was announced on Wednesday, December 20.

"We just signed the papers this morning," stated Mike McMahon, CEO of Federated Co-ops, Inc., in an interview later in the day.

McMahon explained that Federated consists of cooperatives in three areas: agronomy, energy and retail.

"We serve 1,200 farmers in our territory with agronomy, 35,000 propane customers from 33 propane locations, and the gas station in Moose Lake will be the seventh convenience store. It will remain a Cenex station. The Moose Lake Country Store is the fifth that we own."

According to sites shown on a map, Federated Co-ops have facilities as far south as Isle, Isanti and Chisago City. The most northern facilities are in Ironton and Two Harbors. There are facilities in Minnesota and western Wisconsin, said McMahon.

Federated was approached about purchasing the businesses, he said.

"They called in November and asked if we would be interested," he said. "It was a big decision for the board members. One board member said that the purchase would make Federated Co-ops bigger and more efficient."

McMahon said that the changes will be made December 21.

"The new sign goes up on the Country Store at 8:45 a.m., and the truck comes at 10 a.m.," he said. "The truck will bring the stock for the store but we want people to come in and tell us what they want. The vendors will also come and fill the convenience store. December 21 is the first official day that we will be open."

Although the company is purchasing the feed mill along with the Country Store, there are no plans to operate the mill.

"We have had the CEO of another company, in which Federated Co-ops owns 19 percent of the stock, come and look at the mill," said McMahon. "That company can supply good-quality feed at competitive prices. We will be removing the mill from the site."

After the feed mill is removed, that space is available for another portion of the business that Federated provides.

"We are the second largest dealer of Cub Cadet," said McMahon. "We will have lawn mowers and snow blowers for sale here. That will help make the business more profitable."

As the business develops, McMahon said there are plans to also service the equipment that is purchased. The service department will be located at the gas station.

"We are still trying to think things through," he said. "We are trying to figure out how to provide small engine repair."

Vehicle service will also be available, he said, and the self-serve car wash will be open.

McMahon and the staff want to hear from the customers.

"Feedback is a gift," he added. "We'll take all of the feedback that we can get."

McMahon said the consumers will experience the Power of One, as they patronize the gas station and feed store.

"Our customers will find agronomy, energy and retail with us," said McMahon. "That is our rallying cry, 'The Power of One!' to consumers. If they are kind enough to use Federated propane at home, they can also patronize the gas station and the Country Store."

Five of the previous 22 cooperative employees have been hired.

"We will have two at the gas station, two in the Country Store, and one will float between the two," said McMahon. "We couldn't hire them all but we saved five jobs in the community. Those five will get us started. We plan to hire more employees as needed. We offer a competitive wage, and we are proud of our culture. Everyone has a chance to give feedback."

McMahon said office staff will not be needed.

"Our accounting system is already set up," he said.

When asked why Federated did not purchase the agronomy (fertilizer plant) portion of the business, McMahon explained that it wasn't needed.

"We just invested $2 million in Ogilvie, and invested in another one in Rush City," he said. "We did not need this one."

McMahon said by phone on Friday the Askov location was not purchased either.

"Two (locations) was more than we can handle right now." He said there are no current plans to purchase it in the near future.

Mark Grave, the Propane Operations Manager from the Kettle River location of Federated Co-ops, said the convenience store at the gas station will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., once the station is fully stocked.

The Country Store will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, with the possibility of extending the hours during the summer.

"Federated is excited to add another piece to the community," said McMahon. "Federated will be visible in the community. I am speaking for the 250 employees and the board when I say that we are excited to be here."

For more information, contact Mark Grave at mgrave@federatedcoops.com.

 

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